Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Excuse Me, God, This Is Not The Life I Ordered!

You might be depressed if:

A. You cry whenever you hear REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore"
B. You watch the Pixar movie "Up" and tell your spouse "This makes me want to kill myself!" [not literally!!]
C. You've been chronically ill for nearly three years
D. All of the above

The answer is D. Thank you for all of your emails, phone calls, and text messages inquiring if I'm ok. People got concerned that the blog was quiet, and with good reason. Life lately has been very, very hard. I hadn't wanted to write about it, feeling like it drew me deeper into the depression that I'm fighting tooth and nail, but it's what's going on, so here we go:

I have not eaten a normal meal since Oct. 21, since I have been suffering from undiagnosed gastrointestinal (GI) problems. I have become a stalker at my GI doctor's office (I told him, "Hey, at least I'm nice and smart!" and he agreed), and have submitted myself to a battery of undignified diagnostic tests that mostly are coming up with no clear pathology. If you have never had persistent GI issues, you can't know that when that part of your body isn't feeling well, no part of your body can feel well. Of course, the GI tract is the massive engine that powers your body, and it's always working, so it's not like a sprained ankle that you can stay off of for a while. Even doing two days of bowel rest, which means drinking only clear liquids, calmed my system only a little bit. Until I had to eat again.

The depression that is nagging at me is a bigger threat than my GI problems, I think. I used to be a freakin' mess, to put it nicely, and at one point took 4-6 psychotropic drugs at the same time. It took me years of patience and determination to get off of them, and I have no desire to get back on them. If I have to, I will, but one day at a time, I've been giving my depression the middle finger and telling it it won't get me today. I've handled this by exercising, which hurts my tummy, but gives me yummy endorphins that stave off the depression. I've been very selective about my media, choosing light, fluffy, and funny over dark and depressing, which is part of the reason that the first half of "Up" threw me for a loop. I'm doing lots of service work for OA, which keeps me out of my head, and I'm doing my best not to isolate, though I'm not feeling social right now, to say the least. Prayer and meditation help, too.

The fact that it was December 2006 that I first started having serious pain leading up to my Lyme diagnosis certainly adds fuel to the fires of depression that I'm fighting. More on this later when I'm not giddy with the fact that David, unbidden, sought out and got me vampire erotica from the library. Could I be married to someone more attuned to me? I don't think so. I'm also giddy with the fact that I just watched and enjoyed "Twilight" in preparation for seeing "New Moon" on Sunday. I recognized the Stephenie Meyer cameo in the diner this time, and enjoyed the film a lot more since I didn't watch it immediately after reading the novel.

Back to brooding: In spite of everything crummy going on, I do sense the hand of God somewhere in all this. I have felt led to schedule a consultation with an integrative medicine clinic. This is a medical practice I've previously dismissed as being too expensive and too fringe-y for me to have an interest in it, but three years later, I'm willing. I have a friend who had great results working with them. I've surrendered myself to the several thousand dollars of debt that we'll accumulate if I decide to seek treatment with them, which I believe that I will. At this point I think they'd have to advocate overt idol worship for me to run scared.

After two years of being out of touch, two weeks ago I ran into the aforementioned friend who was healed at this clinic, and she urged me to give them a second glance. I checked out their Web site again, and saw they had a free Webinar about Lyme Disease with a naturopathic practitioner, which I attended. I found it surprisingly informative and credible, and began to seriously pray and meditate (haha, I just typed "medicate" instead of "meditate." Is that my Freudian slip showing?) about whether to seek a consultation with the practice. The overwhelming message I got was to go for it, so that's what I'm doing. David is going with me, and is being amazingly supportive, even though this type of health care definitely falls farther out of his comfort zone than mine.

Something that piqued my interest in the Webinar was the discussion of Lyme Disease co-infections. One of the reasons that Lyme has been so much more debilitating over the past 10-15 years than ever before is that when someone is bitten by a Lyme-infected tick, they usually are also being co-infected with up to eight or nine other viruses and bacteria. The naturopath giving the presentation said that in over a decade of practice treating Lyme, she has only had two patients who were not co-infected. There is not a lot of medical literacy about the co-infections in mainstream medicine; I was lucky to have had a neurologist who even knew how to properly check for Lyme. I was never tested or treated for any of the likely co-infections, and one of the most predominant symptoms of those lingering co-infections is GI trouble. In light of the fact that we have no other clear ideas about why my tummy is so upset, this theory is intriguing, so I am embarking on a different path to see if we can clear this up.

In related news, I'm pleased the Lyme-documentary "Under Our Skin" has made it to the next round of consideration for receiving an Academy Award for Best Documentary! I have a few beefs with this movie, but overall I support it because of the incredible job it does spreading Lyme literacy. At some point, I'll formally review the movie on my blog, but I recommend it. Check it out!


Laura said...

Aw Sarah, I'm rooting for you :)

You totally have to watch HSM. Happy go lucky all the way.

If you need a more lengthy distraction, start watching Lost for free on Hulu! Guru and I are addicts, and we actually got Mom and Dad into it too. I can't promise it's always positive, but it's always entertaining! Especially if you're feeling anti social, since once you get into it you have to see everything...

Aaaand this is almost on the verge of TMI seeing as how you're married to my brother and all, but there are other ways besides exercising to get endorphins ;)

Sarah said...

Laura, David & I think that is the most awesome comment ever. Thanks for the laugh. David thoroughly supports your assertion!

Elise said...

It's hard to overstate how miserable GI issues can make us. There's something really demoralizing about having your digestive tract out of whack. It's like the whole inside of you is a disaster.

Since you're very knowledgeable and your GI guy sounds like a good one, I'm sure you've considered this but just in case...

Irritable Bowel Syndrome can result from an insult to the gut. Antibiotics are a prime suspect. There are some dietary changes - other than not eating - that might help. Drop me an email if you'd like more info.

I hope you get this sorted out one way or the other. Please take care.

Susan said...

As I am lying here with off the charts ulcer pain, I quite literally feel your pain, my friend! What I can't imagine is how grinding down it must be to be sick without a clear diagnosis and I pray for a refuah shlemiah for you. You've been through so much -- I'm in awe of the way you keep it together under those conditions. I'm rooting for you. Don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything at all.

Sarah said...

Aw, thanks Susan. I appreciate your empathy. It is grinding to be sick with no known cause. I'm sorry you're not feeling well.

Renee said...

Hey, Sarah - I'm so sorry to hear you're still struggling with all this.
While you search for the correct diagnosis & treatment, would you like to try hypnosis? It can be helpful for relaxation, for distraction/pain management - it can reinforce all the things you're already doing. I'll be glad to give it a try with you, if you'd like.

S said...

Miss Sarah, I believe you know my story of my 2-year-intermittent-undiagnosed GI issue, but for the record, it was a malfunctioning gall bladder. One surgery, and one gall bladder (and VERY small stone) lighter, and I have not had any systemic issues since. (Except for the damn flu...)

Thinking about you, wishing you well, and happy you are writing again!!